A's 3, Angels 1: Three Up, Three Down

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
8:37
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- The Angels simply can't get themselves into a race that's been standing there waiting for them.

They lost to the Oakland A's 3-1 Friday night at Angel Stadium to eliminate themselves from the AL West race and to imperil their wild-card chances. The Angels, who have gone 5-7 in their last 12 games, now trail the Boston Red Sox -- rained out in New York -- by 3 1/2 games with five games left.

The Texas Rangers, who beat the Seattle Mariners earlier in the evening, watched the end of the Angels' game on the stadium scoreboard in Arlington before celebrating their second straight AL West title.

The Good:

Weaver's work. In between a rocky first inning and a rocky eighth, Jered Weaver was at his most efficient. He struck out seven batters and allowed just five hits. You could see the fatigue starting to get to him in his final inning of work, when he had a wild pitch and threw a pitch over catcher Jeff Mathis' head on a pitchout. Weaver is about precision, so it was a bit out of character. Solo home runs by Jemile Weeks and David DeJesus were Weaver's only appreciable mistakes.

Alarm bell. When Torii Hunter slammed a home run into the right-center field seats in the seventh inning, it was an unfamiliar sight: a run. Hunter's shot broke up 12 scoreless innings for the Angels offense and was just the second hit Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez had allowed.

Aybar's dive. Shortstop Erick Aybar made a diving stop in shallow left field on Scott Sizemore's sharp grounder in the fifth inning, but that wasn't the impressive part of the play. Aybar sprang to his feet in one fluid motion and threw Sizemore out by a half-step. That brought an appreciative roar from the crowd.

The Bad:

Bat rot. The Angels clearly have stumbled into an offensive funk. Entering the seventh inning Friday, they had gone 10 innings with just three base runners and one of them (Vernon Wells) reached on an error. The Angels' offense has been streaky all year. This latest cold streak is sinking the season.

Trout trouble. A combination of sporadic playing time and major-league pitching appear to be getting to Mike Trout. The Angels' best prospect, only 20, is finally starting to look overmatched at times. He is in a 1-for-22 slump and he struck out twice Friday, swinging and looking. It's looking like Trout could begin next season at Triple-A, which wouldn't be a bad idea given his age.

Clutch defense. The Angels have made some fielding mistakes at bad times lately. Mark Trumbo's error allowed the tying run to score Thursday and Maicer Izturis couldn't stop Weeks' sharp grounder in the eighth Friday that let the go-ahead run score. It wasn't an easy play, but it was an error.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Mike Trout
BA HR RBI R
.309 24 76 72
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 24
RBIM. Trout 76
RM. Trout 72
OPSM. Trout 1.002
WJ. Weaver 11
ERAG. Richards 2.62
SOG. Richards 139